How Diets Make You Fat

I’m going to let you in on a secret about losing weight: eat the number of calories you need to maintain your ideal weight. What am I saying? Restrictive diets are the reason why people don’t lose weight. Dieting causes binging. It’s as simple as that.

This truth was shown back in the 1940s in Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Starvation Experiment.  The esteemed Dr. Keys conducted a thorough scientific study of calorie restriction to gain insight into the physical and psychological effects of starving war victims and how to best refeed them after the war. The results were published in the Biology of Human Starvation (University of Minneapolis, 1950).

For the study, well-adjusted conscientious objectors to World War II volunteered to be placed on a diet with about 1,600 calories a day for 3 months. The men lost 25 percent of their natural body weight at a rate of about 2.5 pounds a week. As they lost weight, they experienced depression, irritability, impatience, and apathy. Food became an obsession: the men talked, read and dreamed about food. During the refeeding phase, they hoarded food and stuffed themselves until they became sick.

Dieting is Crazymaking

The body cannot tell the difference between intentional calorie restriction (dieting) and true starvation. That 1600 calorie diet is no different from what people do every day.  And who hasn’t met a cranky dieter who constantly talks about food and then goes on to binge?  Binging causes weight gain and the cycle starts all over again. The process makes me cringe.

And so everyone, regardless of weight, should simply eat the amount of food they need to maintain ideal weight. Overweight folks should use Body Mass Index (BMI) 24 as a reference point. This calorie calculator from the American Cancer Society shows how many calories you need and, to plan a healthy diet, read this article I wrote for Calorie Count  – or make an appointment with me!

Your thoughts:  Has dieting ever led you astray?

2 thoughts on “How Diets Make You Fat

  1. Pingback: Tweet What You Intuitively Eat | Ask Mary RD

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